Catholic Church Kilsyth

Canon Michael Downey

The Very Rev. Michael Canon Downey was born at Jenkinstown, Co. Kilkenny, on 20th August, 1896, and was ordained priest on 14th August, 1921. He passed the whole of his priestly life in the Deanery of St. Ninian, where he served in the three parishes of Stirling, Bonnybridge and Kilsyth. Canon Downey ministered here at St Patrick’s Kilsyth from 1938 till his death on 24th December, 1955.

His first concern was to improve the amenities of the Parish, and was responsible for the construction of the present presbytery. At that time it was thought that the ground occupied by the former presbytery could be used to extend the church by adding a new aisle to balance the one built in Canon Turner's time. An outbreak of fire in the church at the beginning of September, 1954, changed his former plans, and it was decided that a new church should be built.

Sporting activities in the parish had been carried on in the Haugh Park under the auspices of the Emmet Football Club. This field was quite inadequate for the purpose, and Canon Downey decided to extend it. He acquired this ground and the adjoining Garrell Vale Park which had housed Kilsyth Rangers F.C. in the pre-war years, and set about building the present St. Patrick's Sportsfield, which was one of the finest sports grounds in the county. The old fields had been very low-lying and required to be raised and this was accomplished by in-filling with 100,000 tons of pit debris which raised the surface level. The whole area, extending to over four acres, was enclosed by a wall eight feet high. This provided space for a full-sized, turfed football pitch, a smaller ash-covered pitch, two tennis courts, a bandstand, and dressing accommodation for each sport.

Canon Downey did not live to see the whole scheme completed, and after his death the committee honoured his intentions to have permanent dressing accommodation and built the present pavilion which was opened officially by Mr. Harry Sullivan on 11th September, 1963. Canon Downey's love of golf and his encouragement to other would-be golfers among the youth of the parish is reflected in the growing interest of many young men in this sport at that time. In recent years (starting in 2006) an annual golf tournament at Kilsyth Lennox Golf Club has bourn the name ‘The Canon Michael Downey Memorial Golf Tournament’ in honour of his memory.

Canon Downey was also active on the Education Committee of the County of Stirling from 1944 till he died.

His death on Christmas Eve 1955 brought to an end a long period of ill-health which Canon Downey had borne with a resignation and patience equaled only by his diligent attention to his priestly duties and his determination to build a church more worthy of the Blessed Sacrament and of his congregation – an ambition that was ultimately to be fulfilled by his successor as Parish priest of Kilsyth, Thomas Canon McGarvie.

Canon Downey's Prayer Card

Back to the top

Canon Downey's Original Memorial Stone

Canon Downey & Canon McGarvey's Headstone in the Parish

Click on any picture to see a larger image

Father Michael Downey's Silver Jubilee Presentation
Father Downey's Jubilee Presentation pg1
Fr Downey's Silver Jubilee Presentation pg2
Fr Downey's Silver Jubilee Presentation  Pg 3 Fr Downey's Silver Jubilee Presentation Pg 4
Silver Jubilee Souvenir Program courtsey of George MacDonald

Click on any image to get a larger picture

A procession from St Patricks Parish House to the church with Canon Downey
This picture was taken sometime between 1948 and 1955 and it shows a procession from the Parish House to the old St Patrick's church. The Parish priest is Canon Downey in front of him are the 2 assistant priests Fr. Brennan closest to the camera with Fr. Anthony beside him, a little obscured. The 6 Altar boys are from back to front - William McGuire, Joseph Clinton, Peter Canavan, Hugh Armstrong, Pat Harvey and an unknown.

Click on any picture to see a larger image

This picture was taken in 1947 at the wedding of Frank Millar and Ellen Waters. It shows rear left Fr Thomas McCarville, rear right Canon Michael Downey. In the front row Eddie Waters, best man, Frank Millar, groom, Ellen Waters, bride and Mrs Nan Johnstone (nee Waters) bridesmaid.
Courtsey of Catherine McGrath.

God BlessYou!